The paintings in the exhibition Van Gogh Inspires: Matisse, Kirchner, Kandinsky: Highlights from the Merzbacher Collection show the impact Vincent van Gogh had on the most important artists of the early twentieth century. Masterpieces by the likes of Henri Matisse, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Wassily Kandinsky are being shown in the Netherlands for the first time. The private art collection assembled by Werner and Gabrielle Merzbacher is considered one of the finest in the world. The works are presented on the third floor of the Van Gogh Museum.
Fourteen masterpieces in the Netherlands for the first time
The focus of the exhibition Van Gogh Inspires: Matisse, Kirchner, Kandinsky: Highlights from the Merzbacher Collection is on the way Van Gogh influenced the French Fauvists and German Expressionists. Fourteen works from the Merzbacher Collection are being shown at the Van Gogh Museum, representing the most important Fauvists (including Matisse, Derain, De Vlaminck and Braque) and German Expressionists (such as Kirchner, Kandinsky, Jawlensky and Pechstein).
The selection includes Interior at Collioure (Afternoon Rest) by the Fauvist Henri Matisse, Autumn Landscape with Boats by the Blaue Reiter artist Wassily Kandinsky, and the expressive Girl with Cat, Fränzi by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner of the group Die Brücke. Each is an iconic example of the respective artist’s oeuvre. The private art collection assembled by Werner and Gabrielle Merzbacher is considered one of the finest in the world. All the loans are being shown in the Netherlands for the first time.
Van Gogh: ‘the father of us all!’
Vincent van Gogh wrote in a letter to his brother Theo that ‘painters being dead and buried, speak to several following generations through their works’. Van Gogh did indeed become a shining example for generations of artists after him. Beginning in 1905, the Fauvists in France and the German Expressionists of Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter looked for ways to heighten the evocative power of their works.
Van Gogh’s colourful, animated and emotionally charged paintings offered them a source of inspiration. The vitality of his work encouraged both the Fauvists and the Expressionists in their need to express their emotions through their art. These innovative artists took Van Gogh’s pursuit of freedom in form and colour to a new level. Or, as the Brücke artist Max Pechstein later declared: ‘Van Gogh was the father of us all!’
Since the new presentation of its permanent collection in November 2014, the Van Gogh Museum has set out to place Vincent van Gogh’s works and the story of his life and art in the wider context of his time. This includes a focus on past artists he admired, contemporaries and the artists who were inspired by him.
The Van Gogh Museum regularly updates the permanent display through acquisitions and temporary presentations. Loans from museum and private collections are used to extend Van Gogh’s story into the twentieth and even the twenty-first century. The loans from the Merzbacher Collection offer an insight into the ongoing influence exerted by Van Gogh’s work.
Publication and tour
The exhibition Van Gogh Inspires: Matisse, Kirchner, Kandinsky: Highlights from the Merzbacher Collection is accompanied by a short publication exploring the relationship between the artists from the Merzbacher Collection and Vincent van Gogh.
During the presentation, guides will offer a Gallery Talk at fixed times, in which they emphasise the connections between the paintings and the work of Van Gogh. Painting workshops inspired by Fauvism are also being held in September and October, and there will be a lecture on Sunday 4 September.